by Leena Saleh
As thousands rallied in Gaza, Palestine commemorating International Al-Quds Day, their friends around the world echoed their actions rallying all over from New York, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, London, and Iraq. Chicago was no exception. On Friday Aug. 26 supporters gathered in the Daley Plaza to voice their solidarity with Palestinians under occupation and to call for an end to violence and genocide.
“We are not here to give strength to the cause of Palestine but to derive strength from a cause of truth,” said Sayyid Sulayman Abidi from Baitul Ilm Academy. Capturing the real feel and purpose to Al-Quds Day, Sulayman eloquently explained the role in which activists must play.
“We hope that when history is written that our names are remembered as being those who stood up and fought for truth,” said Sulayman. He reminded his audience that this is a humanitarian cause that is necessary for all caring individuals to get involved. For Sulayman, what ignites such urgency is the justification of immoral and systematic violence against Palestinians.
“There’s a difference between a travesty and a tragedy. If there is a hurricane that kills thousands of people, that is a tragedy. But if there is a system that justifies the torture and suffering of people and it may be only one person this is a travesty. Even if it is one death it is still a bigger travesty,” said Sulayamn.
First introduced in 1979 by Ayotallah Khomeni in Iran, Al-Quds Day is an annual event commemorated on the last Friday of Ramadan. What began as what Khomeni considered an obligatory religious duty for Muslims to stand up for Palestine, grew into an international solidarity movement inviting all Muslims and non-Muslims alike to condemn hate, violence, and Zionism.
“It is because we are humans that we need to feel the suffering of the Palestinians. It is because we are Jews we feel the suffering of the Palestinians. It is because we are religious Jews we are so opposed to the philosophy of Zionism,” said Rabbi David Shloma Feldman from Neturei Karta, an international organization of Orthodox Jews dedicated to the propagation and clarification of Torah Judaism.
“In history, the most vocal and eloquent voices opposing Zionism were religious Jews,” said Sulayman.
Shloma emphasized numerous clarifications about Judaism shedding light on a different element to the Palestinian solidarity movement sometimes overlooked. “We blame Zionism for the hate and animosity we experience today because of the terrible, evil actions of Zionism. It’s not only the Palestinian Arabs suffering from the Israelis but the Jewish community in Palestine who are tortured an imprisoned for speaking out against Zionism.”
Tackling not only the conceptual immorality of a Zionist state but attacking the source of its capability, the speakers reminded their audience of the importance of boycott and divestment.
“To fund, give aid, support a state, to support a philosophy, to support a government, to support a system, that kills innocent civilians and takes away the rights of people, under no circumstance, anywhere is that OK. We’re gathered here today to oppose that,” said Thaer Ahmad of American Muslims for Palestine.
A flock of about 100 protestors of different ages and backgrounds chanted in unison surrounded by onlookers , “Free, free Palestine!” circling the Chicago Picasso, waving banners and vocalizing a call for freedom with conviction, continuing the tradition of International Al-Quds Day.